Hundreds of years ago, Confucius said, “Only the wisest and stupidest of men never change.” How interesting! The wisest people don’t need to change and the stupidest don’t think they need to change. Everybody else … and I suspect that includes all of us … had better be about the work of making changes for a better life personally and professionally.
Indeed, if you don’t consciously, deliberately plan out the changes you need to make, and thoughtfully carry them out, you’re taking a chance–a big chance that everything in your organization, your career, your life, and your relationships will just work out. Wrong!
Instead of taking a chance, I advise my clients to do several things to ensure successful change. Two of them are as follows:
1. Commit yourself to continuing education.
The other day I read a sign that said, “The average person spends $1000 a year on the outside of his head but only $10 a year on the inside of his head.” I thought, “Wow! Sounds pretty stupid to me.”
But it’s true. The average person doesn’t think twice about spending money on the APPEARANCE of his head. Whether it’s shaving cream and razors for men, or beauty creams and makeup for women, whether it’s cologne or perfume, or haircuts and perms, people spend a lot of money to “look good.”
The sad thing is most people spend nothing to “be good.” Oh, they may attend a company-mandated seminar once in a while, but those same people would never think of spending their own money to buy a book or attend a class that would improve themselves and their futures.
What about you? Are you spending as much time and money on the COMPOSITION of your head as you are on the APPEARANCE of your head? I hope so. It’s one of the best ways to ensure your success.
If not, let me suggest two things. First, no one is responsible for your success but you. Not your husband, your wife, your parents, your boss, your company, or anybody else. Oh sure, they can help, support, and encourage, but none of them can make you successful. Only you are responsible for your success. How much are you investing in yourself?
Second, get a program. Maybe you decide to read a book a month, a serious book that will help you get better at what you do or want to do. Maybe you decide to listen to three podcasts a week or attend three seminars a year, all geared to what you need to know. The point is, get a program and follow a program. There is no investment you’ll ever make that pays bigger dividends than the investment you make in yourself.
Get a copy of my new book, The Payoff Principle: Discover the 3 Secrets for Getting What You Want out of Life and Work, and read Chapter 11. It discusses the Process of Continuing Education you need to follow. In fact, this is a great day to get your copy of the book because I’m giving away a free copy of 147-page companion workbook to those who buy today. To get your copies, along with the free workbook, go to thepayoffprinciple.com.
2. Let your values guide the changes you make.
A few years ago, I used to hear people say: “America, love it or leave it.” In other words, “This is a great country. Don’t mess it up by trying to change too much of it.”
Today, it might be more appropriate to say: “Change or die.” In other words, “The whole world is changing and if you’re not somewhat flexible and resilient, if you’re not out there learning new things, you’re in trouble. Big trouble.”
The problem is most people have no idea how to change or what to change. They go in one of two directions, resist all change or embrace all change. Both directions are ridiculous. The first one will turn you into a dinosaur, and the second one will turn you into a jelly fish.
The secret is to open your arms to change, but don’t let go of your values. Take your job, for example. Whatever skills got you into your current job may no longer be enough to keep you in that job. Indeed if you haven’t been to several training seminars, read several books, or listened to several audio recordings on professional development lately, you may be in danger of extinction.
You’ve got to open your arms to change. But don’t let go of your values.
It’s your values that tell you which changes should be made and how to make them. For example, if you value family, then a change that promises to make you more money but lose time with your family would not be a good change. If you value honesty but your sales manager requires you to say whatever it takes to sell the merchandise, then changing to a new job may be necessary. Hold on to your values.
I think of Paula Ferrato’s twin four-year old daughters, Maggie and Katie. They instantly grasped this concept of being open to change (finding new ways to have fun) while not letting go their values (having healthy fun). They had watched their Mom use the computer and fax machine on many occasions, but one day Paula watched them on the play slide. Maggie went down head first, saying, “Here I come! I’m faxing myself!” Not to be outdone, Katie stood at the top of the slide and shouted, “Here comes page two!”
Value-driven change will serve you very well. That’s why my new keynote and seminar is entitled, 4C Leadership: Communication, Cooperation, Commitment, and Change. Click here to check it out.
The future doesn’t have to be so scary … if you help create it. And you can create the change you want by using the two tips discussed above.